Portage County Board of Supervisors Chair O. Philip Idsvoog, District 16, wants answers as to why a 1999 project to reconstruct the McDill Dam in Whiting wasn’t completed correctly, and he’s working tirelessly to find them.
“I find it incredible that you can have a project that involves the DNR (Department of Natural Resources), involves the DOT (Department of Transportation), costs a couple of million dollars, you get a change-order from the DNR saying what you are doing with the reconstruction of the dam is wrong and here is what you need to do, and nobody can remember it,” said Idsvoog about the project.
As part of a larger project that also included the construction of the County Road HH bridge over the Wisconsin River and County Road HH from Post Road to what is now Highway 66, the McDill Dam reconstruction project was not completed correctly, as officials discovered June 10, 2011, when water seepage in the dam embankment prompted a complete drawdown of the McDill Pond 10 days later and the closure of HH that runs atop the dam. Officials from Portage County, the city of Stevens Point and the village of Whiting worked for more than a year to come up with a solution to fix the dam, completing those repairs just last month.
While working on the solution, a number of revealing documents from the time period have been discovered, including a 1999 document from the DNR to Whiting that approves plans dated March 3, 1999, prepared by Romenesko Engineering for construction of the dam, pending five conditions are met. Among them is one saying that granular pipe bedding will not be allowed. An engineering inspection of the dam in 2011 showed that there was granular material under the box culvert where the leak had been occurring.
“To the best of my knowledge this order was never followed and I can’t get anybody to tell me why they never got it or why it was never complied with,” said Idsvoog. “I find that just incredible. I find it impossible they didn’t receive it. The Register of Deeds office had it.”